daeseage: (bunp)
[personal profile] daeseage
Earlier this week a coworker of my mother's gave her half a flat of apricots from a family friend who runs a local orchard. In the interests of actually consuming all the apricots before they went horribly bad in all sorts of interesting and unusual ways, we thought we'd try making preserves! Only neither my mother nor I have ever done any sort of canning at all. Ever. And to top it off, our go-to recipe book didn't have an apricot-specific recipe.

Which meant improvisation time! It turned out all right, so here are some step-by-step instructions for a pretty tasty sort-of freezer apricot jam!

1. Let cat sit on top of crinkly paper covering apricots. You can move her occasionally, but there's a good chance she'll just keep coming back, so don't worry about it too much! This step is crucial in ensuring that your too-ripe apricots are adequately squished.

2. Be thoroughly confused by the different types of pectin on the shelf at the grocery store. We ended up selecting the Sure-Jell MCP because it was the cheapest powdered pectin, and snagged two 2 oz (~56 g) boxes because we didn't recall exactly what the recipe said.

3. Despite what your exalted cookbook may say, don't bother peeling and chopping your apricots -- they're too ripe and squishy to parboil properly, and the skin's pretty thin, anyway. Just pick out the pits and squish into a large measuring cup.

4. Realize that your have nearly three times as many apricots (by volume!) as your peach preserves recipe calls for peaches. Figure it shouldn't be too hard to double the recipe -- you've got all those glass jars you can use if there's too much for the freezer jars!

5. Dump something more than four cups (possibly about 1 L) of goopy pitted whole apricots into the large pot you usually use for spaghetti. (This is a standard size, I'm sure!)

6. Juice a very ripe large lemon that's been on the counter waiting to discover its purpose in life for at least a week. It came up to about 1/4 c ( ~60 mL). Be unable to fish out the seeds with a spoon, and pour it through a tea strainer onto the apricot goo.

7. Add 2 tsp (~10 mL) each salt and powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C!) to goop.

8. HULK SMASH!!! No, really, break out your favorite potato masher and go to town on that goop. It's done when you've worked out all your pent up aggression.

9. Add sugar. Stir it all in. Our peach recipe called for 5 cups, but then we doubled it, and the apricots were very ripe and my mom doesn't like things too sweet, so i guessed at 8 cups (~1.9 L or ~1.6-1.8 kg, depending on which conversion table you're looking at.)

10. Debate how much pectin you should add, and whether or not dissolving it in water is really necessary. Confuse yourself by having three different basic jam recipes spread across the kitchen table by this point, and settle on 1.5 little boxes (~3 oz or ~85 g) and just dump it on top of the goop. It's looking pretty watery already anyway, and you need it to gel!

11. Forget that you're making freezer jam, and bring the whole apricot-y mess to a rolling boil.

12. Abruptly remember that you're making freezer jam when the thick mess pops and burns your hand. Turn the stove off. Scrape off the foamy stuff that's bubbled up.

13. Somewhere in the midst of everything above, you put the plastic freezer jars in the dishwasher on the rinse cycle. It's done now, so remove jars from dishwasher.

14. Fill 6 half-pint jars (~200 mL jars) to within 1/2 inch (~1.25 cm) of top.

15. Have quite a bit of hot apricot goo left, so quickly snag random assortment of saved glass jars with sealable lids from the cupboard and run them through your homemade autoclave (aka, dishwasher rinse cycle). We used one pint jar (~.5 L) and two-and-a-half more half-pint jars.

16. Let cool to more or less room temperature on the counter with a paper towel over the open jars to prevent the introduction of unsterilized cat hair. When cool, wipe down the threads and outside of jars of any extraneous jam, and put lids on. The recipes may say leave sealed at room temperature for 24 hours, but the hungry housebeasts and limited counterspace preclude leaving more things out in the open.

17. Clear room in the freezer for all jars but the half-full one (which goes in the fridge for a taste test as soon as you remember), and cross your fingers!

18. Clean up. =D

About 6 hours after finishing, I checked the pop button-thing on the glass jars in the freezer, and they seem to have sealed alright with no cracks! In the interests of testing before releasing this to the internet at large, I tried some of the jam in the fridge on some coconut butter crackers that have been lying around, challenging me. It's still pretty runny, sort of the consistency of honey (we leave ours on the counter year-round, so ymmv), but I think it might thicken after being in the fridge longer. Perhaps the pectin shouldn't have been heated? It's pretty delicious anyway -- albeit very sweet -- and passes as a cracker/toast spread! If anyone has canning/preserving tips I would love to hear them! -- my tomatoes will be ripe soon, and there are going to be more than I can possibly give away!
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daeseage: Jade napping, using Bec as a pillow; from the webcomic Homestuck (Default)

January 2013

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